post general conference

Another four years, another bit of time before the denomination splits.

C'mon, is it really that bad? Well, I for one really look forward to being able to get back to ministry. Well...not that I ever stopped, but...whatever. Things are looking up though, even if your favorite petition hopefuls didn't make it.

I have a comparison I want to make - a statement of hope, if you will. Told in a "flippant air" to downgrade your threat level to just below "psychedelic plaid."

There were once a group of people called Pharisees. According to Christian tradition these particularly nasty Jews were all gloom and doom. They went around sneering and people, never smiled, and totally underestimated the love of God *on purpose*. Basically they were grouchy, slow to move, quick to argue, and were SO serious about social holiness that they cut ties with the gentiles (or to be accurate, were unlucky enough to be born non-Jew). The important thing to them was making up a bunch of rules so they could keep all their ducks in a row instead of truly focusing on God. The only time Pharisees did move was to enact Holy vengeance on someone who had wronged them. They were selfish, sneaky, greedy, and would do anything to achieve their ends.

Now, if you pay any credence to modern scholastic thought (or at least Jesus' appreciation for them) you will be glad to know that Pharisees were kind hearted people, generally. Always concerned about what God thought, the Pharisees would choose to debate God's will rather than sleep. There was always a way to improve one's relationship with God, and the Pharisees had few obstacles standing in their way. They dressed right, ate right, worshiped right, and were model citizens through and through. They taught this lifestyle to their children. Pharisees were some of the only people in Israel's history to actually be serious about returning to God and remembering all that Israel had been through. The social holiness was vital to being close to God.

They should be credited with the survival of judiasm after the fall of the temple in 70AD. They took care of widows, orphans, and were some of the nicest people you met. They loved their children. They loved their wives (and and wives loved them). Whenever someone fell away from God, their heart broke for their loved ones. A Pharisee was always well rested (something I envy in today's society) because they kept the sabbath. They were closer to knowing what God wanted than anyone else in Israel. Sure...they had 613 rules, but those were important for loving God and loving neighbor. Or, so one said once... A good Pharisee followed the rules. Because that was the surest way to stick with God.

Now, to help this out (and because I don't want to type it all again), simply substitute the word 'Pharisee' with 'Methodist' in the above paragrahs and yatzee!

Where is the hope in this, you ask? Because Jesus will surely straighten us out. The Sabbath was made for man, not Man for the Sabbath. Basically I'm saying all the laws...all the codes...all the arguing and deliberations and time and money can surely be used for the good of the Kingdom of God. Right? The hope I find in the Pharisee/Methodist comparison is that we are not so far gone. And thats more hope that I've heard from some.

Surely I'm not the first to compare our church proceedings to the Pharisees' law abiding deliberations and I don't think I'll be the last. But where on the fence do you sit? Is the discipline a millstone tied around the neck of our church or is it an almost inspired book of Church law that will bring us closer to Christ?

Good times are ahead, my friend, because Jesus cannot be contained by well formulated paragraphs. Your semantics will only serve to describe what is already there, not bring to life something that was previously dead. For that, we will need Jesus. And didn't Jesus come back for the Pharisees? for those who were blind and thought they weren't?

Good times...good times.